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U '* . ?. 



HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




THE BEQUEST OF 
EVERT JANSEN WENDELL 

(CLASS OF 1882) 
OF NEW YORK 



1918 



/£*-' 







THE THINGS HE 
WROTE TO HER 



THE THINGS HE 
WROTE TO HER 

BY 

RICHARD WIGHTMAN 




NEW YORK 

THE CENTURY CO. 

1914 



HARVARD CCLLEGE LIBRARY 

FROM 

THE BEQUEST OF 

EVERT JANSEN WRNDtU. 

1913 



Copyright, 1914, by 
THE CENTURY CO. 



Published, March, 1914 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

FIRSTWORD i x 

THE FIRST MORNING AFTER THE FIRST 



EVENING 



3 



A WEEK OR SO AFTER THAT 6 

THE MENTAL MENU 9 

THE TREASURES OF MOROCCO I3 

TAKING THE WRAPPINGS FROM THE HEART & 

THE HINDERING MILES 22 

THE SPIRIT OF BARTER 24 

THE UNDERSTANDING 28 

THE EARTH, THE HORSE, AND THE WOMAN 34 

THE PEDESTAL '• • 38 

THE FEAST AND THE FIRE 42 

PHOTOGRAPHS 46 

A GRAY DAY 53 

POSING 60 

EMANCIPATION 63 

AT MIDNIGHT 67 

THE DAWN 71 

UPON HER BROW 79 

THE PROBLEM 84 



THE ACCIDENT 



90 



THE PROPOSITION 93 

WHY 102 



FIRSTWORD 

On a certain planet, once upon a 
time, dwelt a man and a woman. 
Both were alive; both were human. 
One day, in the strange, wide path of 
Chance, they came face to face and 
looked into each other's eyes. After 
that, for a long time, they were sel- 
dom in the same neighborhood, and, 
besides, the hard hands of Conven- 
tionality and what is called Law built 
high fences between them, frequently 
rendering necessary some means of 
communication other than speech. 
What the man wrote to the woman 
is in this book. What the woman 
wrote to the man is not in this book. 
Not all things that happen are set 
down. It is better so. 



THE THINGS 
HE WROTE TO HER 



THE FIRST MORNING AFTER 
THE FIRST EVENING 



Was it only last night? 

Today is the 8th, yesterday was the 
7th. Yes, it must have been last 
night, but it seems such a long time 
back. Surely hours are capacious 
things — they hold so much ! 

I did not know that I was going to 
meet you, and you caught me quite 
unarmed. There are so many women 
— they swarm — and one really ought 
to be ever alert and on the defensive, 
but last night when you stood in the 
path and challenged, I was scarcely 
3 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

ready. My shield appeared to be 
mislaid, and my scabbard empty, and 
my sense of distance most unreliable. 
I will not say that you took any unfair 
advantage, nor even admit that you 
pinked me, but when I put to you the 
question, "What is Life?" and you 
got back at me quick and strong with 
"Life is the Sours adventure and op- 
portunity," I knew that, as women go, 
you were, well— distinctive. 

For the first half-hour I thought 
you cold, blase, opinionated. Later 
in the evening I began to think that 
estimate decidedly unjust; and this 
morning my memory holds you as 
warm, expectant and receptive. 

I hardly know why I am writing 
this, or anything. Perhaps it is be- 
4 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

cause I did not sleep, in which event 
my hand sometimes shakes and traces 
foolish, irregular things. 

Woman as an institution is very 
well indeed, but women in particular 
I do not like — much. Their ways 
upset me and most of them are per- 
fumed. But I have always held that 
somewhere on this green earth there 
was a woman who— who was a real 
woman. I have never searched for 
her and never will, but in my pocket 
diary, opposite the 7th, I have put, in 
pencil, a little cross. I do not know 
just what it means — perhaps nothing. 
It is merely a little cross. 



A WEEK OR SO AFTER THAT 



This letter is designed to contain 
a fact and a warning. The fact is 
bluntly put and the warning as solemn 
as I can make it, and were your woof 
of the common feminine sort I should 
expect you to gather your skirts and 
pass on, giving to your world a well- 
adjectived report of the man who 
dared. 

The fact is this — I desire to investi- 
gate you; and the warning this — if 
you permit me to do so I shall hold 
you at your true worth, not a farthing 
more, and by what I find out shall 
6 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

you stand or fall, in my own peculiar 
esteem. 

I think I can count on you to under- 
stand that this design of mine is 
neither fell nor brutal — I merely wish 
to know you as you are, your 
thoughts, hopes, fears, tastes, recrea- 
tions, — the things you love, the things 
you hate, and what you look upon as 
life's supreme good. 

And, to be fair, what I seek to 
know about you, you shall know 
about me, as time and opportunity 
permit, for the basis of friendship is 
Understanding, the tenure of friend- 
ship is Sincerity, the fruit of friend- 
ship is Progress, and the crown of 
friendship is Peace. 

There seems to be no earthly rea- 
7 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

son why any man and woman should 
not build a little ell on life when the 
tools are at hand. 

Will you lunch with me at the 
Colonia, Saturday at two? 



8 



THE MENTAL MENU 



I wonder if the pillared maw of 
the Colonia was quite aware of the 
kind of people it swallowed that Sat- 
urday at two. I suppose we looked 
like the rest of those who came, ate 
like them, drank like them, and de- 
meaned ourselves in a similarly 
proper fashion, but unless my reckon- 
ing is wrong we were singularly odd, 
and I think if the world were aware 
of what we thought and said it would 
pass upon us with deprecation and 
declare us hopelessly impossible. 
9 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

You were not quite on time, you 
remember, and I sat among the ori- 
ental pillows framing an accusation — 
you were primping. But when you 
finally came, your innate and unforced 
daintiness quashed the indictment and 
I credited you with having merely 
missed your car. 

Unless you do something untoward 
to spoil the notion, I shall always hold 
you in my thought as permanently 
trim and well-rigged — in the matter 
of apparel absolutely reliable and 
comforting — and I base this conclu- 
sion not upon any favorable personal 
prejudice, but deduce it from the 
general premise that any woman who 
can look as you looked on Saturday 
at two-ten, will look as she ought to 
10 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

look on Monday at half-past nine in 
the morning. 

As I review the experience of that 
hour to which you so graciously and 
bravely lent yourself, I am quite ready 
to admit that I like you, — ready even 
to put it down in black and white. 
Surely, we meet at enough points to 
make friendship possible and cumu- 
lative, for the list of the things to our 
common liking includes books, horses, 
pictures, music, the drama, tolerance, 
life for life's sake, and the relegation 
of mere money to the impenetrable 
shades. 

I think we shall get on, and 

prophesy that there will be flung into 

space a new world, banned, perhaps, 

by conservative astronomers, but 

ii 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

quite satisfactory as a habitat for the 
two odd folk who sipped the Colonia 
brew, waived commonplaces, and 
traded thoughts on Principle and 
Destiny. 



12 



THE TREASURES OF 
MOROCCO 



On the desk before me lies a 
book with uncut leaves. I got it only 
today and bore it to my den with 
the thrill of possession. Again and 
again I have touched it with reverent 
hands and taken an occasional eyeful 
of the beauties of its binding and 
typography. But just what is in the 
book I do not know. It is waiting 
for me and it is good, but the spirit 
of haste is not in me — with deliberate 
joy I delay the hour of perusal and 
13 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

plan the details of the event as a bride 
plans her wedding, for I have learned 
that reading, in its best estate, is a 
sacrament of the mind, to be cele- 
brated devoutly and preceded by ex- 
pectancy and fasting. 

The author of this book has writ- 
ten other books which have helped to 
lay the rails on which my thinking 
travels, and hence I am in some meas- 
ure prepared for this further reach 
into the Great Land. 

He is a man who has lived the Life, 
and consequently stands white and 
lone and courageous, not at the sum- 
mit but near it, with uplifted eyes. 
When he writes, the comparatively 
small number of men and women who 
are qualified and ready put their eyes 
14 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

upon his page with held breath, and 
then go back to their toil as those 
who have seen a vision whose glories 
they would fain transcribe in the 
varied terms of daily life and duty. 

Twice have I seen this man, once 
in the thronged street of the city and 
once at the window of the cottage 
which will one day be a shrine for 
those later generations who will see 
his work in proper perspective, hew 
his likeness in stone, enthrone it in 
the public square, and scramble to 
touch the pen with which he wrought. 

When I saw him his brow was un- 
reddened by the press of any crown, 
his hands were without jewels, and 
his shoes of the common leathern sort, 
but I knew the royal blood was in his 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

veins and my spirit made fitting 
obeisance. 

They say that Southey, old and 
feeble and blind, went into his library 
on his last earth-night, ran his trem- 
bling fingers over the well-worn bind- 
ings of his favorite books, bade them 
one by one an affectionate good-by, 
and then fell asleep. 

Oh, my friend, ought we not to 
quicken our appreciation of those who 
have labored to communicate them- 
selves to us through printed things, 
thereby breathing upon us the endless 
benedicite of their philosophy and 
song? 

I think that among our deprivations 
there is none quite akin to this — 
we are so seldom permitted to read 
16 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

together, and then talk it out in the 
little hours when the town is still, 
and all that savors of greed and gain 
is shamed into the shadows by the 
smile of the quiet stars. 

And the leaves of the book are still 
uncut ! 

If I had the power to call you now, 
and you heard and came, I think this 
could just about be reckoned the 
sacramental hour. 



i7 



TAKING THE WRAPPINGS 
FROM THE HEART 



I am wondering if the baring of 
a human heart to your vision could 
possibly bring you aught of good this 
day, particularly if that heart were 
mine. Somehow I think it might. 

This may be only the conceit of a 
presumptuous mortal, but if it be true 
that we feed upon our friends and 
take our life-sap from kindred souls, 
perhaps the conceit may be pardoned 
and the presumption softened into 
sheer good-will. 

And you, of all women, have the 
18 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

right to know, for since the Fates, all 
unbidden, led our feet to the starlit 
river and your eyes looked into mine 
that way, what I am is not my own 
property and secret. If you were less 
than you are, less good, less noble, 
less my kind, I could run and hide, 
and after a time forget, but your very 
nature binds me to you, keeps me in 
your world. Therefore it is right for 
me to let you see me as I see my- 
self, come what may, and if you 
are neither shocked, surprised nor 
ashamed, I shall be glad. 

You asked me once, you remember, 
why I was reasonably happy, and I 
put you off with a makeshift — told 
you it was because I could not afford 
to be otherwise, for the causes of 
19 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

happiness, I think, may not be glibly 
given. In answering your query 
now, I bare my heart to you and let 
you see what time and tears, and a 
few other things, have put into my 
philosophy. 

If I am happy it is because of what 
I believe and endeavor to express in 
what I do. These things I hold : the 
goodness and cumulation of life; the 
benevolence of the universe mani- 
fested in the immutability of natural 
law; the defensive power of silence 
and non-resistance; the glory of 
labor; the sanctity of the body; the 
debt of man to woman; the ministry 
of chivalry; and the virtue and abso- 
lute legality of all love. 

This sort of thinking gilds the 
20 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

hours for me and helps me to feel at 
sunset that the day, and what hap- 
pened in it, was, perhaps, not quite in 
vain. 

If these notions of mine seem good 
to you, reach across the miles and 
touch my forehead with your hand. 
It will be to me the further seal of 
mental comradeship— the earnest of 
larger joys and a lift to higher levels 
with room for at least two. 



21 



THE HINDERING MILES 



The postman was kind today. 
He brought me your letter and the 
rest of the things you sent, all of 
which interest me greatly. I am so 
glad you are succeeding, but if you 
were not I think I could demonstrate 
my thought toward you even more 
fully. The summit is always easy. 
With me the shadowed valley's the 
thing. It tests the fiber of what is 
within. Oh, that I might speak all 
the heart-things that seek egress! 
But I am in leash. Strange, isn't 
it, that I plead with you to express 

22 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

yourself — to let yourself go — and 
argue hotly that bondage is a sin, and 
then stand myself, tied and dumb, in 
the presence of your wondrousness ! 
But this silence is only one of the 
passing impositions of distance, and 
when you are near again, so near that 
I can hear the beating of your heart, 
it seems as if our little world must 
needs be vocal with the words which 
are now in prison. What number of 
months did you mention in your last 
letter? Was it eight? Ah me! 
But there is much for us each to do, 
and life and hope and courage are re- 
newed with each day's sun. 



23 



THE SPIRIT OF BARTER 



A boy should respect what is 
given him and cherish it. 

This is the theory fine and prim, 
but the world is full of boys whose 
real treasures are in other door-yards. 
Once, when I was little and had a 
stone-bruise on my foot, my father 
gave me (oh, wondrous consolation!) 
a steel magnet. The handle-part was 
painted red and there was a bar across 
the poles to complete the circuit and 
hold the power in. It was a costly 
affair, very scientific and, in the judg- 
ment of the aged, just the thing to fill 
24 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

a lad's eye, stimulate his hunger for 
a knowledge of physics, and make 
him forget stone-bruises and kindred 
woes. But, having the magnet, I in- 
ventoried it low, and went into the 
village to seek its riddance and the 
possession of some substitutional joy 
whose handle was not red, whose 
make-up and mission were ^scien- 
tific and relatively sodden. 

And the village promptly furnished 
the opportunity in the person of a 
brown urchin, who produced from 
pockets of measureless depths a whip- 
lash, and a sky-hued butterfly of a 
species new to me. 

On these I set covetous eye and 
bartered my magnet for them with 
eager haste. The wings of the but- 
25 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

terfly were rubbed and broken, and 
in due season I received the marks of 
the whiplash upon my small body, but 
my nature had asserted itself, had 
longed, reached out and taken, had 
come into its own, and that, after all, 
and that only, IS LIFE. 

When I was a boy no more and had 
begun to sense the length and diffi- 
culty of the Way; when my friends 
with gentle glee pointed chaffing 
fingers at the hints of silver on my 
temples; when my heart was hard hit 
with the missiles of Disappointment 
and Delay, and Fate with paternal 
tenderness and well-meant generosity 
had heaped my hands with compensa- 
tory things, designed to comfort and 
assuage, the old spirit of discontent 
26 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

and hunger for the Unpossessed 
surged through me like a flood, and 
again I went into the village — and 
you were there ! 

If the world knew what happened 
in the village, it would doubtless 
argue, from its viewpoint, the differ- 
ence between what I gave and what I 
got, allege that the wings of the but- 
terfly were rubbed and broken, and 
foretell the falling of the lash, but 
with me the soul's demand is sacred ; 
a trade 's a trade ; only our own can 
call us; life is good; and the heights 
beckon. Let us climb them, you and 
I, strong with the strength of two, 
and vibrant with the thrill of Comple- 
ment and Content. 



27 



THE UNDERSTANDING 



This has been a busy day for me 
— press of detail, clash of interests, 
honest difference between the minds 
who run our commercial concern. At 
noon I knew I would be tired tonight 
— overtired — and resolved not to 
write to you, fearing a laggard pen 
and thoughts trivial and unworthy. 

But the Mood has its hands at my 
throat — there is something I want to 
say, and I ask for grace to say it well, 
for it relates to the fiber which enters 
into our structure, and it is agreed 
between us that we are to build strong 
28 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

— a house that will not topple in the 
wind. 

When you came into my life your 
girlhood lay behind; you were a 
woman, fair and full and round, with 
a woman's heart, and a woman's 
mind, and a woman's point of view. 
Your lips, also, were the lips of a 
woman, and likewise your feelings 
and desires. There were numerous 
people in your world, you had seen 
different lands, you knew many 
things, and had been broadened and 
vitalized by experience. In other 
words, you had lived and longed to 
live more, and it was that, I think, 
which caught and held me. 

You will remember that I have 
never asked you to tell me the story 
29 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

of those former days, never put a 
pencil in your hand and tried to get . 
you to trace a map of your mental and 
affectional journeyings. This lack of 
curiosity on my part is due to my 
belief in a certain principle which I 
hold tenaciously and declare almost 
with fierceness, — a woman is what she 
is, and must be considered apart from 
her environment and detached from 
all the former things in her life. For 
every woman, in order that she may 
be a woman, is dowered with sex, and 
sex is forever creating conditions 
which can never be satisfactorily ex- 
plained before any minor judgment 
seat. 

What I know of your life is what 
you have been pleased to tell me. 
30 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

You are the product of your yester- 
days, and later will be the further 
product of your tomorrows. You 
hold your place in my life, not because 
of what you have been, but because 
of what you are, and what you may 
become. You need relate to me 
nothing. I desire neither apology 
nor explanation. I take you by and 
large, and wager my all upon the 
quality of your womanhood, present 
and yet to be. 

As for myself, this: there are 
things in every man's life which can- 
not be told, things which are made 
possible by the dross that was put into 
his making without his knowledge or 
consent, things whose telling would 
add not one whit to the happiness of 
3i 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

his kind or the general good of the 
universe. And I am a man, with all 
that implies, and am glad of it, 
through and through. My past is 
like the common run, in that it is not 
all that it should have been, but it is 
my past, the best one I could make 
with the tools I had to work with, and 
I shall neither repudiate it nor wear 
myself thin regretting its imperfec- 
tions. Whatever I know, it taught 
me, and I count my investment in its 
tuition the best I have ever made. It 
is better to aspire than to repine, and 
to be worthy of you, to have a place 
by your side in the lilt and onward- 
ness of life, will be about the cleanest 
desire my heart can entertain. 
And (I almost forgot) what about 
3* 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

those former days, yours and mine? 
I guess it would be well to seal the 
early volumes of our personal story 
and concern ourselves chiefly with the 
rest of the set. 

Shall we strike hands and call it a 
bargain? 



33 



THE EARTH, THE HORSE, 
AND THE WOMAN 



s 



This was a morning among 
mornings — bright, cool and glorious. 
I am indebted to the sun for calling 
me so early, and to the cold water 
which fell upon my head and body, 
putting a finishing touch to my awak- 
ening, and making me ready for food 
and the subsequent out-of-doors. 
Where do you think I went and what 
do you think I did? 

Astride a thoroughbred of old Vir- 
ginia, easy and fleet, with neck re- 
34 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

sponsive to the slightest rein-touch, 
her fine-fibered undulant frame at- 
tuned to my wish and will, I rocked 
through the land serenaded by locusts 
and companioned by thoughts of you. 
Down green-roofed aisles of beech 
and poplar, through sanded vales 
threaded by satin streams, up little 
banks where fragrant grasses grow, 
'round ponds with sloping shores and 
shallow inlets, through squirreled 
copses, past heroned marshes, I rode 
and rode, occasionally letting go an 
ejaculatory prayer of thankfulness. 
The world seemed literally brimming 
with good, and my heart sent back 
Despondency's card and instructed 
them to tell him I was not at home. 
Surely, this have I found, that there 
35 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

is something in the back of a horse 
and one's memory of a woman that 
takes the sting out of life and makes 
one plan for more canters and more 
memories, — that is if the horse be 
yours — your very own — and the 
woman yours, too, — both fitted to you 
by the kindly, skilful Fates, purveyors 
of the best, who sit in the far secluded 
corners of the mart where the soul 
does its buying. 

Oh, really, my lady, you need not 
be troubled! I am not straining 
things to lift the horse to your plane 
in the scheme of the universe. I am 
merely saying that joy is joy; intelli- 
gence is intelligence; comradeship is 
comradeship; fidelity is fidelity; and 
love is love, no matter with what man- 
36 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

ner of silk their enfolding bodies may 
be adorned. 

And for all these things which I 
have found in you and otherwhere — 
chiefly in you — I thank the good God, 
and reach for more, insatiate. 

I believe that tomorrow will be 
another day. May the gold of its 
morning be your riches, and the glow 
of its evening your benediction ! 



37 



THE PEDESTAL 



You once said that the pedestal 
upon which I have placed you is too 
high — not for the looks of the thing 
but for the truth of it, and that your 
fall, if a fall happened, would be a far 
one and result in a fearful shattering. 
I would have you know, my 
madame of modesty, that this pedestal 
is not an accident; it was not thrown 
up by some compelling chance. I 
built it myself and its form &nd height 
were determined upon with careful 
deliberation. You are high in my 
thought, worthy of the light on all 
38 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

sides, and a dark, low niche under the 
eaves, while doubtless conservative 
and safe, would not comport with my 
conception of your texture and 
dignity and character. The kind of 
thought which I hold toward you is 
never content with anything less than 
the utter enthronement of its objec- 
tive, and the thought itself is the ear- 
nest of the ultimate regality of the 
one who, perhaps in advance of per- 
fect realization, is deemed noble and 
strong. 

Sometimes love is a noun and some- 
times it is a verb, but always it is a 
lever to lift the loved and make it in- 
trinsically fit to dwell in the environ- 
ment of altitude and light. And love, 
the lever, works without being indi- 
39 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

vidually conscious of its task. It 
works easily and well, and because it 
is love it vaunteth not itself, is not 
puffed up, and finds its joy, not in its 
own being and essence, but in seeing 
its object achieve the high place and 
hold it by sheer right of beauty and 
power. 

You doubtless have your flaws — 
such things are still incident to 
Nature and humanity; there was 
never yet a perfect rose nor a perfect 
woman — but I shall abate my thought 
of you not one whit because of them. 
No matter what you may think you 
have of mental bias, or misdirected 
desire, or instinct untrained, or whim, 
caprice or unreason, I have set my 
heart upon you, your being and be- 
40 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

coming. The pedestal stands as I 
made it, full height, white from base 
to cornice, and all the laws of creative 
and upholding love must be annulled 
before any crash can rend the sweet 
silence of my Temple of Dreams. 

So there now! Be assured, and 
remember that the best way to get rid 
of dizziness is to accept the elevation 
and regard the good universe as in- 
cluding the heights as well as the 
depths. 



4i 



THE FEAST AND THE FIRE 



There was a dinner tonight, a 
very tangible dinner, with white 
lights, and pink women, and red wine, 
and deft servers, and food fit for Epi- 
curus, and music — music lit with 
yellow rising suns and shot with 
laughter and tears, hope and despair. 
And to this dinner I was invited, 
and to this dinner I did not go, elect- 
ing instead to take my hour with you 
— to open my lodge at your knock; to 
break with you the unleavened bread 
of fellowship; to drink with you the 
rare old wine from the Cask of Life; 
42 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

to hear with you the music of that 
wondrous lute whose strings seem to 
lie ever docile beneath the quick, 
white fingers of our kindly Destiny — 
strains that would slay those who 
have come by lower paths into lesser 
experiences. 

And now that we are together and 
alone — though between our bodies a 
continent lies and the universal stars 
look mercilessly down — let the feast 
begin, and the wine flow, and the lute 
release its melody! 

Well, we have eaten, and drunk, 
and harkened, and all was good. Is 
it not so? 

And now I will shade the light and 
we will be quiet awhile. Let us look 
43 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

together at what is happening in the 
grate, and talk little. Souls on the 
same plane may be satisfied with 
mere nearness — proximity is enough. 
Words, after all, are but vehicles for 
ideas to ride in, and when once an 
understanding is reached, speech may 
be mostly put aside and communica- 
tion merged into communion. This 
is the soul's highest revel and the 
aftermath is a clearer vision, an ardor 
for life, and an appreciation of the lit- 
tle tasks which fill the average day 
and give heart, hand and brain their 
legitimate employ. 

Is not the silence truly sweet and 
golden? Is aught missing? 

Lie close and — see, the log has 
broken in twain, the flame's swift play 
44 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

has lessened for sheer lack of some- 
thing to feed upon, the embers are 
paling, and the gray ashes are more 
and more! I fain would hold you 
through the coming chill — we might 
be warm together — but the hour is up. 
You were most kind to come. I am 
armored for the morrow. It was 
good that I did not go to the dinner. 



45 



PHOTOGRAPHS 



Naples — you must be there for 
from thence the packet came, its rug- 
ged wrapping tied baffiingly with 
stout hemp. Twine is cheaper than 
time and it is my habit to cut it and 
fling the bits to the four winds, but 
alas, you are a spoiler of prudent 
habits. I fumbled at the knots nerve- 
lessly and lashed myself into an 
ecstasy of anticipation, for were not 
you within and had I not spent hours, 
literally hours, wondering where you 
had put that new six pounds which 
46 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

you wrote you had filched from the 
Continent? Never were knots so 
hard to undo, and never before did a 
real, human woman make six more 
alluring and charmingly different bids 
for masculine capitulation ! 

When the riot within me was 
partially put down by a compromise- 
indulgence of eyes and lips, I made a 
sort of descriptive tabulation which 
runs like this : 

The One with the Smile 

The One with the Hair 

The One with the Eyes 

The Dreamy One 

The Sweet One 

and 

The One with the Soul 

Choose, did you say choose, with 
the whole outfit in my possession, and 
47 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

you, the arch miser, way on the other 
side of the ocean? Well, if I must, 
I must. I guess I will take the One 
with the Soul, particularly as it also 
seems to carry with it mind and body 
and the daintiest gown I ever saw you 
in — and that 's saying a lot. Please 
to forget never, that because what you 
are appeals to me, I am not at all 
sleepy about what you have on. The 
highway to human enchantment, I 
have heard, is well-decked with the 
furbelow flower. So be it, and may 
the Lord bless the dressmakers and 
forgive their many sins. 

No, on second thought, I won't 

choose — just simply won't unless you 

let me do it like the last child before 

the jeweler's window. There they 

48 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

stand on the hot sidewalk, first on one 
bare foot and then on the other, tat- 
tered and penniless, Mary and Betty 
and John, the innocent covetousness 
of childhood running free among the 
gems lying in purple state behind the 
pitiless and sufficient glass. 

"I choose the rubies," says Mary: 
"I choose the diamonds," cries Betty : 
"And I," shrieks John, with appro- 
priate crescendo and a monopolistic 
sweep of his grimy hand, "I choose 
everything!" 

John's choice is my choice — every- 
thing, — and you will just have to sub- 
mit. 

In a row on my dresser? No, in- 
deed! The housemaid has profane 
eyes and, besides, I should not like to 
49 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

think of you as the Queen of the 
Velox Parade. You shall have a lit- 
tle dark domain all to yourself, and 
only when I say so shall you stand re- 
vealed, and the audience will be very, 
very small, but thoroughly capable of 
what the newspapers call "tumultuous 
applause." 

Bend down, I want to whisper 
something. I have rented a safety- 
deposit box so many inches by so 
many inches and at so much per 
quarter, and there is also a quiet little 
room where one can go and be alone 
with what one sets store by. In a 
certain city, it is said, a woman came 
twice a week to one of these places, 
staying a half -hour each time. She 
was a pale woman in a black dress. 
So 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

By and by she did n't come any more, 
neither did she call to surrender her 
key, all of which was perplexing 
to the safety-deposit people. After 
waiting a suitable time and trying 
hard to find her, but without success, 
they broke into the compartment to 
see what bonds and valuables she had, 
and found — a tress of yellow hair, a 
little shoe worn through at the heel, 
and a baby's rattle ! 

And now I have my box and my 
key and my treasure, and when I call, 
the fat and uniformed warden of 
wealth will bow and smile and let me 
in and shut the door and stand out- 
side and tap the tessellated floor with 
his foot and think that I am cutting 
coupons ! 

Si 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

But I hate Naples. It is so far 
away. 



52 



A GRAY DAY 



This is what I call a gray day. 
The sun seems to be away from home, 
and the tintless clouds, slow and 
heavy, hang sullenly below the moun- 
tain-tops, veritable loafers of the sky. 

It is n't raining, but wants to and 
probably will. 

The summer is hardly what it was 
a fortnight ago. There is a hint of 
chill in the air, and here and there a 
young maple has gone into the browns 
and reds under the first touch of the 
frost's silver hand and stands out, a 
53 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

lambent silhouette, against the back- 
ground of forest green. 

And, apart from the changes in ex- 
pression on Nature's face, two great 
things have happened. Yesterday, 
while I was fishing, a cedar waxwing 
lit on my rod and executed a graceful 
trick in balancing — it was a pretty 
circus — and the day before that I 
drove a furlong with a butterfly 
perched on either rein, waving glori- 
ous wings in the sunlight ! I reckon 
that, as events go, these outrank in 
importance the fall of Port Arthur. 
They were certainly quieter and in- 
volved no greed or blood-letting, 
points which, in my thinking, are de- 
cidedly in their favor. 

I wish your eyes might have been 
54 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

here just now to see what my eyes 
saw. 

I am sitting very near to the edge 
of the hill-guarded lake. The mob 
on the veranda was noisy with cheap 
chatter and so hither I fled, — I trust 
with due decorum. The lake is as 
still and quietly joyous as a human 
heart which has reached the end of 
its quest, and a moment ago, within 
ten feet of where I am sitting, a brook 
trout leapt clear of the water, traced 
the image of his beauty upon my 
retina, and then dropped back into the 
clear, cold water, leaving behind a 
hint of the hues and emotions which 
lie beneath the surface of this moun- 
tain lake. It was only a little joy and 
a fleeting one but it was real and clean 
55 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

and natural and worth while, and I 
wish we might have beheld and ex- 
claimed together. And now it occurs 
to me that, in the life of the trout, 
that leap was a matter of some im- 
portance, an achievement whose in- 
spiration was either hunger, pleasure 
or fear. Perhaps the trout darted 
upward for a fly on the surface of 
the water, perhaps his leap into 
another element was due to sheer joy 
in life and motion, or perhaps he was 
seeking to escape from the maw of a 
larger and pursuing fish. 

I think I must have leaped into your 
sunlight actuated by one or more of 
these motives. Hunger in my life 
was a daily distress — hunger of heart 
and mind and soul. I craved com- 
56 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

panionship, the nearness of one whose 
very presence could nourish and edify 
me. Also I was infatuated with life, 
eager for the thrill of new experi- 
ences, seeking the investment of 
sympathy and devotion in some heart- 
enterprise worthy and satisfying; 
and, again, I was chased by the fear 
that the love-elements of my nature 
would be forever hived, and atrophy 
for sheer lack of expression — that my 
life, failing to achieve its complement, 
would build itself without symmetry, 
ugly and brittle, a warning rather 
than an exemplar to those who might 
behold it. 

But whatever the motive I am glad 
for the leap. You have not disap- 
pointed me, and even the grayness of 
57 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

this day is translated into brilliance 
in the vision with which you have en- 
dowed me. 

And because you have helped me to 
look upon the world with new and 
seeing eyes, because you lend the 
touch of song to the prose of small 
happenings and fit wings to my 
imagination and aspirations, I long 
to have you with me, literally with me, 
everywhere and always. Even as 
things are, this gray day is a good 
day. But I need you by me on the 
shore ! The sandpiper tilting on the 
bar; the reed diamonded with mist; 
the echo of the woodman's halloo 
among the hills; the dependableness 
of Nature; these, with certain 
58 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

memories and certain hopes, comfort 
me. 



59 



POSING 



Hold your sides, please, and get 
ready. 

I am being done in oil ! Not boiled 
in it like a martyr, nor packed in it 
like a sardine, nor buncoed in it like 
a small investor, but just painted in it 
like a knight, a millionaire or an 
actor. 

My, but it hurts ! Posing is some- 
thing woful. I used to think a den- 
tist, with his gouges and drills and 
buzz-saws was the devil, but for bland 
and diabolical imposition of physical 
torture he is n't to be named with the 
60 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

quiet and mild-mannered woman-of- 
the-brushes who comes at nine, paints 
till twelve and then goes at it again 
at half-past one. She gets all 
wrapped up in her work and seems to 
think that a man has calves of gold, 
feet of clay, torso of steel and a smile 
as durable as Rogers 1847. 

Personally, I didn't take much 
stock in the portrait idea but my 
blessed relatives insisted that some 
sort of a correct impression should be 
conveyed to posterity, and so I gave 
in. I suggested a photograph, col- 
ored if necessary, but they reminded 
me that this is a world of fly-specks 
and said it ought to be something that 
could be "washed off" with soap and 
water. Posterity indeed! Think of 
61 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

posterity standing in a row in the par- 
lor in front of this imperishable can- 
vas, and saying— "Look at Uncle. 
Was n't he a sight !" 

What kind of a frame do you sug- 
gest? 



6a 



EMANCIPATION 

7S 



When, in the early days of our 
acquaintance, I reached what I 
thought was a proper appraisement 
of your worth as a woman — your 
worth to me — I felt as if I must set 
you off by yourself as a man sets off 
a park for his own enjoyment, 
beautifies it, gloats over his title to 
the land, and builds fences to keep 
people out. I felt that your hours, 
your thoughts and your beauty were 
utterly mine, and sought to thrust an 
arbitrary and defensive hand between 
you and all encroachment, hating 
63 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

every footstep that seemed to go your 
way. By the sheer right of our rela- 
tion I would have you and hold you 
for my very own and for all time. 

But I have changed; I have been 
taught many things; I have come to 
see the futility of force in the realm 
where human hearts play the game 
Nature has set for them. 

Therefore, with deliberate hand I 
lengthen your tether, yea, loose it 
altogether. You are free, or, if you 
please, holden only by the limits which 
are fixed by your own will. 

I want you to know other men, not 
a few, but many. If a man is thrown 
your way, and seems interesting, em- 
ploy — I desire it — all necessary time 
and means to arrive at what he really 
64 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

is. Give to him all that you have for 
him, and take from him all that he 
has for you. You are a wonderful 
woman and should be shared, and the 
world holds many men who are bright 
and strong, capable of appealing to 
you in ways that I cannot. Know 
them, I say, know them well, and 
come my way only when your heart 
drives you thither — only when your 
own gage proclaims the proportions 
of my nature ample to command and 
appease you. 

Do not misunderstand me. Mine 
is the recklessness of justice and wis- 
dom. If I play thus fast and loose 
with you, it is not because I do not 
want you any more, but because it is 
best, the only true way, for I believe 
65 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

the soul is dowered with the right of 
experience and exploration, and that 
love cannot be placed as we will, — 
here or there or yonder, — but will find 
its own as surely as the dew finds the 
lily that lifts its frond in the glad 
sweet dawn. 

The door of your cage, my lady, is 
open and held back; the sunlight is 
upon the hyacinths ; the breeze is stir- 
ring the young leaves of the maples ; 
and I am listening for the fluttering 
of wings! 



66 



AT MIDNIGHT 



My heart and the clock agree 
that it is midnight. Three bulbs 
over my table indicate that some 
wires that carry light are still strung, 
that some dynamo is still vital, that 
some workmen have their aprons on 
as usual and are doubtless mixing 
their toil with banter about the last 
dance, or the twins that came to 
McCarthy's house when McCarthy 
was on a spree. But for me there is 
no light, no power, no badinage. My 
recollection of the good yesterday 
mocks me, the anticipation of tomor- 
67 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

row terrifies me, and the poignant 
pain that came with today, grew with 
it, and is outlasting it, is hell. 

I suppose that every man must take 
what comes with his nature — must 
pay the price that is asked for having 
his particular kind of a soul. Hence, 
if I am impelled from within to do 
and dare in a foe-peopled land, I must 
take the wounds and loss of blood 
which go with doing and daring; if 
I make a bid for Life and Light, I 
must expect the balance to be pre- 
served — that Death and Darkness 
will also be knocked down to me. 

This is the philosophy, and I love 
it and play it at every turn of the 
wheel, but, God, how dark it is to- 
night, and to what depths of disap- 
68 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

pointment and suffering is my heart 
consigned! I would that I might 
drink myself into unconsciousness, 
but that seems reserved for those 
who can do it — it is not for me — I 
must bear the curse and mark of 
sobriety, slumber not, and keep my 
pale face against the pane, looking 
out into the darkness, straining my 
eyes for a glimpse of — nothing, 
nothing I 

You need not expect me to put on 
paper the particular happening which 
makes this a black day in my calendar, 
— indeed it is not necessary, for I 
think you sense it from afar. But 
this is written: when a dream-child, 
brought into the world by the travail 
of one who loves his kind, is strangled 
69 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

by the strong, yellow hands of Greed 
and Selfishness, it cuts deep into the 
soul and curtains the sky. 

I am alone, and down, and it is 
dark. 

Are you afraid of the dark? Does 
the wind appal you? When the sails 
rend like gossamer and the spars are 
as punk in the gale, do you tremble 
and crouch and pray? 

I am looking for some one who is 
strong, some one whose courage feeds 
on disaster, whose lips keep their 
crimson when hope is burnt to a white 
ash and the leer of the world is flung 
at the soul in defeat. 

I guess there must be a God, but, 
oh, I am weak and tired — your arms, 

your arms! 

70 



THE DAWN 



It is morning and all is well. 
The shallows of the glistening river 
sing over their white stones, the 
flowers have opened to greet the day, 
and the goldfinch wings his undulant 
way, prodigally spilling his melody 
into every ear that has learned to be 
attent. 

And this was the day I feared, the 
day from which I shrank as if it con- 
tained a noose suspended over a scaf- 
fold of rough pine ! 

I was early awake. As a gipsy 
girl rises and washes her face in the 
7i 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

brook and runs back to the tent to 
waken her lover with a kiss, so the 
rays of the voluptuous sun stole 
through the crevices of the Venetian 
blind at my chamber window and 
wooed me into consciousness by their 
caress. And then I remembered a 
letter written to you at midnight, the 
call to you which it contained, and — 
what happened afterward. 

I am more than half persuaded that 
you already know what I am now 
going to write, and if so I want you 
to tell me, for the fact of such knowl- 
edge would be of the utmost impor- 
tance in the establishment of certain 
phenomena whose proofs, up to the 
present time, have been most slender 
and rare. 

72 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

After I had finished that letter to 
you (which I enclose herewith) I 
turned the electric switch which 
governs the light in the library, and 
leaned forward in my chair, resting 
my face on my palms and gazing 
thro' the darkness, at the last ember 
in the grate. It was all that was left 
of the glorious fire which had dealt 
so skilfully with the evening chill, 
snapping with sheer ardor for its task 
and actually needing the chimney's 
channel for the escape of its surplus 
zeal. And now the bit of charred 
and smoking maple, with its single 
waning point of light almost ready to 
succumb to the darkness, seemed to 
symbolize my heart and hope. That 
was why I looked at it and sensed a 
73 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

sort of grim fellowship with the 
ember's despair. 

Between the library and reception 
hall there is a wide opening fitted with 
sliding oaken doors and hung with 
plain, heavy portieres of linen, in 
color dark green. While it bears no 
relation to the matter in question, I 
might say that the linen thread in 
these portieres was spun from the 
flax and woven by the hands of my 
mother's mother and, in woof and 
dye, the fabric appears to be quite 
imperishable. 

I had closed the doors and released 
the portieres so that they hung full 
over them — for was I not to open my 
heart to you, and did not adequate 
expression require the sense and spur 
74 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

of entire seclusion? When one tells 
to the only other one how one feels 
when the battle goes wrong and the 
flag is struck, can the place of the 
telling be too still or too far away 
from those who would not under- 
stand, those who have not been quali- 
fied by love to receive with gentleness 
the tidings of defeat? 

I think the ember's fading glow 
lasted five minutes, — it might have 
been ten, — and then, when the dark- 
ness was absolute, I straightened in 
my chair and gave verbal, involun- 
tary utterance to the heart-cry which 
formed the conclusion of my letter to 
you. And then — there was light in 
the room. It came not from the 
chandelier — I had not touched the 
75 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

switch, — nor from the grate — the fire 
was out, — nor from the moonless 
night outside, but from the direction 
of the oaken doors, locked and draped 
to keep out everything that might 
seek ingress, even sound and light. 
A succession of strange thrills ran 
through my body. It was as if a 
million little batteries were trained 
upon my being, pelting me with 
grains of warm, golden sand, each 
bringing its quota of life and hope 
and power. The ecstasy of it was 
indescribable, and under its spell I 
held myself in leash until the elements 
that create and conquer seemed to 
possess me utterly, and then, with 
peculiar, exultant strength and a new 
and supernormal sense of the worth 
7 6 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

of life and opportunity, I rose to my 
feet and turned raptly and reverently 
toward the apparent source of the 
light and there, silhouetted against 
the drapery over the oaken doors, 
bearing no candle, herself the radi- 
ance, her vestment of white contrast- 
ing strangely with the crimson of the 
smiling lips and the pink of the wait- 
ing arms, was her to whom my soul 
had cried at midnight in the hour of 
its supreme need ! 

Tell me, is this news to you? 

And tell me also, this: In the 
crisis-hour, when God is gone and 
there is no star, or when a soul has 
been qualified by experience and suf- 
fering to receive some great new 
truth, may it not be that time and 
77 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

space, darkness and light, substance 
and form, even all things are put at 
Love's disposal for the work of rein- 
forcement and revelation? 

I do not believe in miracles— can- 
not think that there has ever been any 
interruption in the orderly operations 
of Nature — but I regard as reason- 
able the possibility that there are 
phases and functions of natural law 
with which we are not yet familiar. 

And of this I am sure — I saw no 
wraith; I dreamed no dream; I needed 
you, and you came, and with you 
courage for the dawn. And that is 
why I see the river flowing over its 
white stones, and know the flowers 
are greeting the day, and hear the 

goldfinch's song. 

78 



UPON HER BROW 



Your last letter is heavy with 
self-depreciation. Surely you dipped 
your pen that time in the ink of a 
raven mood, and wrote things about 
yourself which I strenuously deny. 
You look well in humility, I admit, 
but a garment is a thing which is put 
on and off and changed for others, 
and now I purpose to drape you with 
warrantable and gentle pride, and 
find a bit of laurel and a blessing to 
put where laurel and blessings belong 
— upon your brow! Bend low &nd 
79 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

listen and then go proudly, for you 
among women are worthy. 

If I read history aright the light 
which does most dispel the world's 
darkness is that which shines when 
the man-nature and the woman- 
nature are in apposition, Abelard 
had his Heloise, Browning his Eliza- 
beth, Wendell Phillips his Ann, and 
the Man of Nazareth faced his daily 
task armored with the love and devo- 
tion of the women who ministered to 
him. If you put women out of the 
New Testament the Cross must go 
too, and there will be left only a 
prophet with a halting tongue, a 
teacher who dared not to die dutifully 
for his truth. But when a man's feet 
are laved with a woman's tears there 
80 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

is not in all the world a path too steep 
for them, and the wormwood and gall 
of life are but as a draught from a 
cool, eternal spring. 

I am not great, oh, woman of my 
heart, and probably my little span 
will pass undistinguished by any 
achievement which the world will list 
as notable, but what I am I am by the 
grace of you, my God incarnate, 
my mentor, star and spur, and lure 
to all that is best in life, now and 
after. 

You know well the work which I 
have chosen for myself— chosen be- 
cause I deemed it important and con- 
sonant with my nature — work in 
which I invest myself with the aban- 
don of a gamester to whom the game 
81 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

is all; well, this work I do as in the 
shade of your living presence. 

If, with the rising of each day's 
sun, the spirit of the hunt is begotten 
within me, and I leap at my task as 
leaps the hound at the throat of the 
stag, it is because, for your sake, I 
count the quarry good and worth 
while. 

You have believed in me and in 
what I am trying to do; when the 
world laughed at my dreams you 
smote its face with the fierceness of a 
woman who shields her own ; in those 
creative hours when the Voices called 
and I dared not to disobey — when 
that which was not became — you 
were near, fusing your breath and 
prayer with mine; and when I have 
82 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

staggered under the weight of things, 
and reached out in the darkness, 
always, always you have put yourself 
under my hand to stay and steady me. 
And when, in that later day of vic- 
tory, when I and what I do are justi- 
fied to the world, and I lie prone with 
weariness, as victors always lie at the 
battle's end, if you, you, will but kneel 
beside me and smile into my eyes — 
ah, that, indeed, will be to me the hour 
supreme ! 

This — this grateful avowal of what 
you are to me — is what I meant by 
the laurel and the blessing. 



83 



THE PROBLEM 



If our path should ever straight- 
en and widen so we could walk it side 
by side, in the sunlight, seeing ahead, 
and with the permission afforded by 
a certificate of conventional marriage, 
what then? Would it be as well 
with us then as now? 

Men and women were joined to- 
gether and faced the issues of their 
fused lives long before the fickle 
cement of state or ecclesiastical cere- 
mony was invented, and a home is 
something more than a house with a 
fire, a cat, a cot, a set of dishes and 
84 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

two or more human beings moving 
about among the furnishings. 

Once in a while, in order that I may 
be informed in the matter of marital 
advantage— or disadvantage — I climb 
as high as I can in the ether of dis- 
interestedness and train my glass on 
the domesticity below. And this I 
see: many houses and few homes; 
many men and women living together 
and few real husbands and wives; 
crowds of accidental offspring, but 
only now and then a child who is the 
result of a spiritual conspiracy be- 
tween its father and mother, whose 
being was deliberately planned in the 
starchamber of intelligence and love 
— love so sure of its own worth and 
divinity that it longs for perpetuation 
85 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

in the ampler life of another and later 
soul. Soft carpets, delicate food and 
art in frames of gold have, in them- 
selves, no joy or substance. Matri- 
mony lacking sustained mental and 
affectional unity is a miserable estate. 
The function of man is the inspira- 
tion of woman; the function of 
woman is the inspiration of man. 
Wage-earning and housekeeping, 
children and charities are but inci- 
dents. The statesmanship of the 
heart involves an irrevocable statute 
of reciprocity — mutual inspiration. 
There is no level so dead as that 
which is reached in the descent of a 
man and woman who, wittingly or un- 
wittingly — it makes no difference — 
have lost the power of communion, 
86 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

and are daily stung by the memory of 
a brittle and impotent vow. Whoso 
loves is blest; whoso promises to love 
is a speculator in the soul's futures of 
which he knows nothing. My love is 
fair today, but will she be fair tomor- 
row? It will depend on her tomor- 
row quality — and mine. And then — 
oh, paradox of pain and heartbreak! 
— though she be as fair as Christ she 
may not be fair to me. 

No man can love a woman, in the 
sex sense, merely because she is good. 
He can only love his woman, and 
then, whether she be good or bad, he 
is bought and sold by her smile or 
sigh. This may not be as it ought to 
be, but it is as it is, and the gods sit 
complacently by without interfering 
87 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

with the resultant mosaic of happi- 
ness and woe. 

I am not afraid of Fate; I do not 
shy at responsibility; I want all of life 
that is coming to me, and covet for 
you every good, but I am wondering 
whether any further bliss or oppor- 
tunity would be added to you and me 
in an odor of orange blossoms and a 
shower of rice. What we have now 
is so sweet and inspirational, so given 
to the bringing out of the best that is 
in us, so marked in its progress 
toward the ideal, that I am loth to 
trade it, 1 if the opportunity should oc- 
cur, for any change or chance that 
might shatter the bisque of achieved 
happiness. The necessity for deci- 
sion does not seem to be immanent, 
88 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

but if it were, what would we do? 
For my part I confess I do not know. 
But this we can do without fear of 
error — fight for every possible hour 
like the last. Oh, the riches of it! I 
count them over and over as a miser 
counts his ingots, and the further 
greed of me passeth understanding. 



89 



THE ACCIDENT 



I have your letter saying that he 
is dead. The suddenness of the thing 
is, to a degree, shocking, but that is 
the way the wheel sometimes turns, 
and it may select one of us as the next 
victim. Who knows ? 

I believe you capable of the appro- 
priate sort of grief. 

You have hoed this row of yours 
to the end and hoed it well. 

I bear him no ill-will, and never 

did. He is a young soul and, in time, 

will doubtless catch up with Justice 

and Gentleness and Opportunity, 

90 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

He simply did not understand you — 
could not — and so was only able to 
hail you awkwardly across the gulf 
which lay between. 

If there is aught I can do in this 
hour, command me. I fear there is 
nothing. But there may be other 
hours. If so, we will try to make 
them wholesome and fine. To think 
of a program just now would be un- 
timely. I have only this word : when 
at the final hour, as you sit where you 
are expected to in the shaded room, 
be glad, with me, that the mean and 
unworthy has not passed between us. 
We have only walked the path that 
was plainly marked for us. I be- 
lieve that for us both it has been an 
upward one, and that no injustice has 
9i 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

been done to the one who sleeps. 
Conceptions of fidelity differ; the 
choices of youth do not always stand; 
and true marriage is not a thing of 
time, place or ceremony, and may 
exist without the physical seal or 
sacrament. 

This will of necessity be for you a 
time of retrospection, and I remind 
you of these things as a help to se- 
renity — that you may not be unduly 
disturbed by the present circum- 
stances, sad and trying as they may 
be, nor led into any repudiation of 
thoughts and feelings which were 
carefully weighed before they were 
entertained. 



92 



THE PROPOSITION 



Since Fate set fire to our thongs 
and our free feet are winged to carry 
us whither we will, I have been 
gathering my man-and-woman no- 
tions together, and desire now to 
spread them before you that you may 
know fully, think deeply, and decide 
wisely your part of the immanent 
question — what we are to do with our 
future. 

A courtship on a haircloth sofa, 
with an emotional climax and two 
tickets for Niagara, is not in the pic- 
ture. We are neither fledglings nor 
93 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

fools. Whatever our years, we are 
not under thirty. 

Experience has made us competent 
to weigh and choose and act and stay 
by. The best of life is still ahead — 
it always is. But we must make no 
mistake. The premature or ill-ad- 
vised fusion of heart interests is al- 
ways a mistake — the sorriest of earth 
— and our years and natures entitle 
us now, I think, to a pleasant sunlit 
sea, whether we sail together or 
otherwise. 

My own mind is clear. The world 
of women has simplified itself— only 
you remain. You are my kind of a 
queen — I have known it long — and 
your scepter is the one under which 
I choose to bow, but your mind, too, 
94 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

must be clear, — you must not weave 
of your tresses a coronet for me un- 
less you are very certain that I am, 
and am likely to continue, your kind 
of a king.. 

Be reminded then that I am a 
peculiar man with many associates 
and few friends. My theories of life 
isolate me from the mass, and society, 
in the popular sense, I am not able 
even to discern. I am often lonely 
and sometimes would starve were it 
not for the nourishment which is 
stored up within myself — my own fat, 
as it were, tides me over. I am called 
impractical, a dreamer of dreams, an 
iconoclast, an idler. Because I culti- 
vate poise and do not fume and sweat, 
some people who know me merely by 
95 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

sight even say that I am lazy, though 
it is my custom to sleep at twelve, 
waken at six and toil the rest of the 
time, with numerous lapses, however, 
and a keen scent for any kind of a 
frolic which makes for re-creation. 

I have proved most proverbs false 
and can live by them only after I have 
turned them up-side-down. I hate 
greed, idleness, pull, bluster, cruelty, 
intolerance, and a religion that can be 
used for trade purposes; and I love, 
well — the things that are summed up 
in you. A list is unnecessary — look 
in the glass. 

I have heard that women are best 

pleased with burly men who tyrannize 

over them and knock them about, but 

I hope this is n't true in your case — I 

96 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

know it is n't — for that role does n't 
fit me, I should be mis-cast. Always 
would I guard and shelter you and 
study to provide the environment 
which comports with your nature, the 
setting which does most facilitate the 
expression of your rays and values. 

Your hands are beautiful, skilful, 
competent, and I have respected you 
because, unlike women who loll and 
dress and parade, you have chosen to 
be busy, to have a task, to achieve 
excellence along many lines of manual 
and artistic accomplishment, in- 
terpreting yourself by what you 
wrought with persistence and pains- 
taking care. 

But now I have a different plan for 
you — I hope you may think it a better 
97 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

one. I do not want you for house- 
keeping purposes nor even as an ad- 
ministrative domestic convenience. 
You are to be neither cook, laundress 
nor maid, and whatever is necessary 
in the way of embroidery or dress- 
making can be "let out/ 5 Many a 
good and worthy woman who is not 
my kind of & queen is looking for just 
such work as this and really has the 
right to be employed. 

My program for you is this : You 
have proved your capacity for many 
forms of work which you had to do; 
now, you are to elect your occupa- 
tions, you are to give free rein to 
your choices, and do the things you 
love to do. Your tastes and whims 
are to be considered and the oppor- 
98 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

tunities you have longed for and been 
denied, are to come your way in 
plenteous measure; you are to have 
abundant time in which to care for 
and perpetuate your body — it is a 
wonderful body, the only one you will 
have for quite a long while, and it is 
entirely worthy of the finest possible 
attention. It is your house, the one 
you live in, the one by which you ex- 
plain yourself to the world. If house- 
keeping must be done, you may do it 
there. I think one's main debt to the 
universe is to keep young and vibrate 
health and goodwill to the last. To 
this end you are to have all the con- 
veniences. 

Then, in my busy hours, sometimes, 
I want you in my office, not as an 
99 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

amanuensis, but as a companion and 
counselor. In the world of business 
there has not as yet been proper ap- 
preciation of the intuitive faculty of 
woman — would you mind functioning 
on this plane a little, for my sake — 
mind being occasionally a real, live 
partner in the dollar-game which 
simply must be played, no matter how 
much we may prefer to play at golf 
or literature or travel? 

And then at night I could wish to 
find you waiting for me fresh and 
ready for the evening together, — a 
fine and happy evening wherever we 
may elect to spend it. 

This, with country roads and fields 
and books, a glimpse of the sea and 
what is beyond, a share of our best 
ioo 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

for those who lack, and the chivalry 
of a durable romance, is what I have 
in mind. 

Can you brook this plan and the 
man who made it? Now be very, 
very sure. Think it over, count a 
hundred, and then — let me know ! 



IOI 



WHY 



I mailed you a letter this morn- 
ing and now I am writing again! 
Can you stand another so soon? 
Really this one is quite different from 
any that has gone before, and if you 
do not like it you may, well — send it 
back unopened. 

While what I have hitherto written 
to you is out of my heart and hope, I 
have endeavored to avoid the lover's 
common phrase, and the titles and en- 
dearments tossed easily from careless 
lips. You are not my darling, my 
only one, a human property to be ad- 

102 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

dressed in the terms of ownership. 
You are a woman, yourself, with your 
own life to live, your own course to 
run, your own goal to attain. My 
title to you is not clear. In the Hall 
of Records there is no writing which 
proclaims that you are mine. I can- 
not plat you like a town, nor environ 
you with walls of steel, nor wear you 
as a jewel upon my hand. And yet, 
possibly, by the right of desire and 
consonance, and with the free assent 
of your own nature, you are my 
estate, my treasure, my pearl of price, 
— not to do with as I will, in the way 
of self and restriction, but to help you 
to fulfil your own life and destiny, to 
find my joy in your flight, though I 
but stand on the ground and look 
103 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

whither you have ascended. If fear 
is the thing that perfect love casts out, 
then from my heart is forever evicted 
the fear that I can lose you through 
the fulfilment of the high prophecies 
of your own being. 

We are wont to speak of two kinds 
of love, human and divine, but love is 
of a single essence — all love is divine, 
and the passion which spends not 
itself on the well-being of its object, 
is not love at all, but a craven soul- 
metal whose baseness is revealed by 
the test of fire to which all things are 
subjected. 

Having this concept of the nature 

of love, its mission and majesty, I 

hesitate to attempt the expression of 

what my heart holds for you. But, 

104 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

/ love you, and before you make 
answer to my letter of this morn- 
ing, let me tell you a little of the 
why. 

I love the heart of you, so tender; 
the mind of you, so broad and strong; 
the soul of you — the whitest gem in 
any fleshly setting: 

I love your truth which flows down 
to me through your speech and bear- 
ing, like a beneficent brook whose 
source is high among God's rocks and 
pines : 

I love you for the wit and banter 
which ring so cheerily upon the shield 
of my philosophy: 

I love your thought for the poor — 
our brothers of the thatch and brick, 
with but half a chance, fore-doomed 
105 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

to quiver under the lash and charity 
of the rich and the strong: 

I love your love of animals, — the 
lesser folk who are in process and 
who will arrive, yet who, meanwhile, 
must take their grain or bone from 
human hands and speak their thank- 
fulness from quiet eyes and by patient 
faithfulness : 

I love your hidden years, the years 
about which I do not know, but whose 
fruit I see in what you are: 

I love your coming years, putting 
in my hands the gold of opportunity, 
the chance to be to you what a man 
should be to a woman : 

I love the prospect with you of 
what is called old age, the time when 
we shall enter upon our finer youth, 
106 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

and in the later hope and strength of 
it, when our now-bodies are in their 
earth again, seek out each other in 
the distant spheres : 

I love you for the way you look 
into my eyes, sailing your very self 
into the harbor of my longing: 

I love in you the promise of other 
lives which shall be the expansion and 
further expression of your own: 

I love your hunger, that I may get 
you bread; your thirst, that I may 
search out a spring; your weariness, 
that I may cut boughs for your re- 
clining: 

I love your body, for do you not 
dwell in it? And is it not the 
medium by which you interpret your- 
self to me, and touch me into the 
107 



THE THINGS HE WROTE TO HER 

human heaven whose streets are long 
and fair ? 

I love your lips ; the lashes of your 
eyes ; the hands that press my temples ; 
the hair that forms my canopy at the 
heated noon; the breast that pillows 
me when I, by toil, have earned the 
right to rest within your arms; and 
I love you for, oh, so many other 
things! The list is long and I fain 
would finish it not now, but in the 
sweet after-days when we are to- 
gether — together ! 

I told you in the other letter to take 
your time in thinking everything 
over, but please don't take too long — 
/ am waiting. 



THE END 

108 



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